Freelance Illustrator


IainMacarthur (Freelance Illustrator)

Iain Macarthur is a freelance Illustrator based in London, England. His work explores plays around with colour, detail and surrealism.

London, UK • November 28, 2022

What led you into design?

I've always loved drawing when I was a kid, never stopped. I always doodled in my school books and my teachers would tell me off for it, sometimes they would give me a stamp of approval for doing it. During my school years I remember going on a trip to an art museum, I think that experience made me more curious about art and that you could make a living from doing that.

As I got older I became more interested in art which made me wanted to pursuit a career in illustration. I applied to various art courses which turned out great, it was an amazing experience and. Learnt a lot about illustration and art.

After graduating, I decided to dive into the illustration world as a freelance, which wasn't easy at first as my style was still rough around the edges. It took a couple of years to build a good portfolio, showcase at group exhibition and get noticed for all the hard work. Over the years, the style of my work became more refined and cleaner as I was getting more experience and also more confidence. Lately I've been trying out new creative still such as painting murals, hand poke tattooing and graphic design.

What does a typical day look like?

Usually I start the day off by getting up as early I as can (which I sometimes fail at and end up waking up pretty late in the morning). Then I make myself a coffee and breakfast to wake my brain up before starting any routine. I mostly work in front of my laptop at home until late afternoon checking emails, admin and working on various projects for clients.

During the day, I would give myself a break and would either cycle or walk around a park to clear my head. Sometimes I would work late at night depending on what type of project I'm working on. I used to be a bit of a night-owl, but now I'm a bit more sensible on when to stop or else I'll end up burying myself out.

When I'm not working I would go out and see friends, check out art exhibitions and sometimes go to music events.

What's your workstation setup?

Where do you go to get inspired?

Tricky question, when I was little I got hugely inspired by anime and Asian culture when I was living in Hong Kong, but now I get inspiration from what ever happens in my day, from my travels and surroundings. Going on walks or sitting at a cafe usually helps give me ideas and inspiration.

What product have you recently seen that made you think this is great design?

I went to see this exhibition by Aubrey Beardsley at the Tate Britain last year in London, I was mesmerized by the amount of detail he puts into his work, I found it very inspiring.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

There's a piece called 'Gothic Portrait' that I made a couple of years ago, which I'm very proud of. It's a black and white portrait of a woman covered entirely in jewellery, it's a very grand looking piece that's heavily inspired by art nouveau and clothing from the renaissance era. This took me several months to draw as it's a very intricate. Seeing this piece, you can easily lose yourself in the amount of detail that has been put into it.

Another favourite from my personal projects which I love is this screen print piece I made back in 2020 called 'Mind Garden'. This piece that represented the creative mind and how we get inspired by our surroundings, causing our imagination to flourish. I was still getting use to using colour in my work as I was so used to just drawing in black and white, but now I really love using vibrant colours and been using more of in my recent pieces.

What design challenges do you face at your company?

For me, I struggle with the business side of being an illustrator, mostly negotiating prices on a project. It's always difficult to put your finger on a price when ever I get approached to create a design, would end up underpricing and then realizing I should have gone for more. Now I feel like I'm getting better at negotiating and being more confident at seeing the value of my work.

What music do you listen to while designing?

Any advice for ambitious designers?

This is probably a cliché thing to say, but I would say work hard and try to have fun with it. If you enjoy what you are doing, then you should keep at it and don't give up on it. Also, if you want to keep motivated in drawing or painting then carry a mini sketchbook with you when going anywhere, I find sketching people or places very motivating, better than being on your phone all the time.

Anything you want to promote or plug?

Check out my Instagram for more drawing and art related things! Also, don't forget to check out my Shop